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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: An affordable hybrid smartwatch with great wellness features

Charlotte Thomas
9 Mar 2022
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
160
inc VAT

A hybrid smartwatch with a host of wellness features, the Garmin Vivomove Sport is a good-looking and affordable fitness tracker

Pros 
Lightweight and comfortable
Looks good
Wide range of wellness features
Cons 
No built-in GPS
Small touchscreen
Mediocre battery life
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New for 2022, the Garmin Vivomove Sport is the latest in Garmin’s range of hybrid smartwatches. A good-looking watch with a minimalist aesthetic, it’s ideal for people who don’t like the look or feel of a chunky watch but still want to access some of the features they bring.

With a focus on health and wellness, as well as your standard call and text notifications, the Vivomove Sport monitors heart rate and sleep, tracks steps and can record a number of fitness activities, including strength and cardio gym workouts, yoga and swimming. You can also access guided breathing exercises, monitor your blood oxygen saturation and stress levels and log your hydration levels.

It’s a great little fitness tracker that helps you get in touch with how your body works. The Sport part of the name is something of a misnomer, though. While the Vivomove is ideal for casual exercisers, if you’re looking to track sports such as running and cycling, you’re better off spending a bit more on a watch with built-in GPS so you can leave your phone at home.

Garmin Vivomove Sport review: What do you get for the money?

Like the other watches in the Vivomove range, the Sport is reasonably priced. With its hidden touchscreen, it looks like a traditional analogue watch; the minimal design with subtle metallic accents reminds me specifically of a Swatch. It has two working hands, a slim profile and is smart enough to wear every day, including to work or on a night out.

The touchscreen, where all the watch’s smart features live, is visible only when you tilt your wrist or tap twice on the screen. It appears at the bottom of the watch face, with the hands moving dynamically upwards so they don’t obstruct the display – a nifty little feature.

I tested the Sport in black but it’s also available in a selection of subtle colours: mint green, ivory and cocoa. All come with a silicone strap, which was comfortable to wear and didn’t catch on clothing. It’s also easy to wipe clean.

While some sports watches can look awkward on smaller wrists, the 40mm Vivomove didn’t look too big on mine. The strap also fits snugly enough to monitor heart rate – it’s suitable for wrists measuring between 125 and 190mm.

Indeed, I found the watch comfortable enough to wear in bed, even though I usually remove all jewellery. It’s also waterproof to 5ATM, which means it can be worn in the shower or during a swim. Although I haven’t hit the pool in it yet, it certainly stood up to the shower test.

The Sport is the cheapest of the Vivomove range and therefore doesn’t have the fancier straps and bezels of some of the more expensive options. If you want a dressier option for more formal events, you can easily swap out the band – it’s compatible with most 20mm quick-release watch bands, not just Garmin’s own.

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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: How easy is it to use?

In the Garmin Connect app you can choose what you want your watch’s touchscreen to display when activated.

There are currently 12 different watch face options: I chose to display the time, date, battery level, steps and heart rate so I could see them at glance, but you could opt for something simpler, such as the date, if you want to keep the minimal look.

Widgets – including heart rate, calories, the calendar screen, stress level, breath rate, current energy level and more – are accessed by swiping the screen. You can also control the music player on your phone with a swipe, log any water you drink throughout the day to reach a hydration goal, and those who have periods can track their menstrual cycle or pregnancy.

Widgets can be added or removed in the Garmin Connect app so you can feature the ones you’ll use the most and hide others. I added distance walked, for example.

Just like every other Garmin sports watch, the Vivomove Sport can alert you when you receive a text message, email or push notification from apps on your phone. If you find constant alerts disruptive, you can change this to show just text messages and calls or turn it off completely.

Either way, reading messages on the OLED display is difficult as it’s very small (it measures only 18.5mm across) and only the first few lines of texts and emails are shown. I found it better to use the watch as a prompt to reach for my phone rather than to read messages. Calls can be answered or declined from your wrist with a quick tap, but there’s no microphone so you can’t talk directly into the watch.

I also found I needed to turn up the volume on the buzzing alerts the watch delivers for messages, alarms and cues telling you to move, take a break or when stress levels are high. This impacts the battery life but the default setting was almost too subtle to notice at times, and even with vibrations turned to the highest level I couldn’t rely on the morning alarm to wake me. If you’re a heavy sleeper, definitely set your phone alarm as a backup.

Garmin Vivomove Sport review: Does it track activity well?

Double-tapping the screen starts and stops activity recording. It’s a simple system but the small touchscreen and icons can be tricky to navigate when you’re on the move and hard to see in bright sunlight – in a trail running race I somehow fluffed up recording and only realised I hadn’t hit start until I had crossed the finish line.

It’s also worth familiarising yourself with the icons as some look similar to others – I accidentally started a mindful breathing session instead of tracking a yoga session. That said, these are the kind of teething problems you expect when getting used to any device.

To track distance and pace on the move, you can tether the watch to your phone’s GPS. Providing you have your phone nearby, I found the distance to be pretty accurate – without your phone the watch will provide an estimate.

The main issue with tracking workouts, though, is that there’s only room for a single metric on the screen at any one time. So, if you want to see your heart rate, distance and other stats, you’ll need to swipe. I didn’t find this much of a problem when strength training with rests between sets, but if you’re in the middle of a run or cardio class, it’s disruptive and fiddly.

This isn’t really a watch aimed at those training for a marathon or cycling sportive, however. For that, a watch with GPS and a larger screen showing multiple training metrics is your best bet. If you want to record your gym training and casual runs or rides, though, the Sport is definitely up to the job, and the heart-rate monitoring and distance tracking tallied closely with that recorded by my dedicated sports watch.

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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: How good is the battery life?

The Sport has a battery life of up to five days when used as a smartwatch and an extra day when used as a watch. This figure is reduced by turning on certain features, such as monitoring blood oxygen saturation when you’re sleeping (which shows how much oxygen your body is absorbing).

With nightly oxygen monitoring on, vibrating alerts turned up to high and tracking four or five activities a week, I found the battery lasted on average 2.5–3 days. While this is more than some smartwatches or sport watches, I’d expect a bit more from a hybrid, especially one without GPS.

The Sport is really easy to charge, though – just plug the cable into the back – so battery life didn’t cause too much of an issue.

Garmin Vivomove Sport review: How good is the app?

The Sport uses the Garmin Connect app to sync data and keep all your information in one place. As anyone who’s used a Garmin device before will know, Garmin Connect isn’t the simplest of interfaces. There are lots of graphs that click through to more graphs and settings within settings.

There’s plenty of in-depth data to keep data geeks happy, but sometimes you need to do a bit of digging to find the relevant info. For instance, the app tells you how much deep, light and REM sleep you have each night, but to find out how much in each stage is optimum you need to tap the three-dot button and select Help and Sleep Score.

Another perk to Garmin Connect is that it syncs easily with other fitness apps such as Strava, so you can keep your data in more than one place.

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Garmin Vivomove Sport review: Should you buy one?

While I haven’t checked out all the features yet (I still need to take it swimming), after a few weeks of testing I’ve been impressed at the number of health and wellness options the Garmin Vivomove Sport offers.

The Sport’s nearest competitor is probably the Fitbit Versa 3. The two are comparable in price and features, although the Versa has built-in GPS. However, I prefer the minimalist, less sporty look of the Sport and the fact that Garmin offers up all your data and watch features for free. Some Fitbit features, including guided workouts and more in-depth sleep data, are kept behind the Fitbit Premium paywall.

If built-in GPS is a must for you, then the Garmin Forerunner 45, which also offers smart notifications, heart-rate and sleep tracking, may be a better (if not as good-looking) alternative.

However, at £160, the Sport is an affordable, entry-level watch for people who want all the features of a fitness tracker in an attractive package.

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